How much of your life, your personal history, your soul, can you put into fashion — and still call it by that name?
There are many painters and sculptors who have put their lives, often torn and bruised, into their art. But fashion? It can only be considered an applied art, and although many creative designers have used their own cultures and countries as inspiration, it is rare to get a cry from the heart.
The Jacquemus show that effectively opened the Paris fashion season had an extraordinary impact, as a small child dressed in white cotton pushed a ball, the colour of blood, across the vast, circular show space.
“Red Nose” was the title of the show from designer Simon Porte Jacquemus, who won a special award of 100,00O euros from the LVMH Prize.
The designer has already laid bare, in words and previous collections, his personal tragedy: the untimely death of his mother as he was emerging to adulthood.
This time, it was the red nose that the designer had apparently developed over the summer that preoccupied him. The show, which had pieces in sanguine red and bright navy blue, was mostly played out in white, including a white horse lead by “father” and “son”. Other gestures were two figures in ballooning white dresses and, at the heart of the matter, clothes that were missing a sleeve, or sliced off vertically.
This technique followed previous Jacquemus shows, in which deliberate holes and gaps in garments explicitly represented Simon’s lost mother.
To those of us who have lived through the silent thoughts, vividly expressed, by Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, this soul baring is nothing new - if that is the correct way to discuss such deeply held emotion.
But Simon, at age 25, is clearly speaking from his own soul, while at the same time portraying the concept of loss as deliberately missing parts. This season, he produced he fine clothes, more “finished” than before: for example, a navy trouser suit with one white arm and inserts of red and white patches. Or there were dresses where the breast covers were made on pure, straight lines divided by a bared cleavage.
It is hard to feel, amongst all the overt emotion, that the clothes are central to the designer’s thought. But that may be unfair, because a navy coat tied with a white ribbon or a white cotton dress with a scarlet insert were real clothes — whatever the story behind them.